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This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
The fish lives in the sea; and 'tis much pride,
NURSE. No less? nay, bigger; women grow by men.()
LA. CAP. Speak briefly, can you like of Paris' love * ?
* Quarto A, Well Juliet, how like you of Paris' love.
"But she, that never cop'd with stranger eyes,
"Writ in the glassy margent of such books." 6 This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him, only lacks a COVER:] This ridiculous speech is full of abstruse quibbles. The unbound lover, is a quibble on the binding of a book, and the binding in marriage; and the word cover is a quibble on the law phrase for a married woman, who is styled a femme couverte in law French.
7 The fish lives in the sea; &c.] i. e. is not yet caught. Fishskin covers to books anciently were not uncommon. Such is Dr. Farmer's explanation of this passage; and it may receive some support from what Enobarbus says in Antony and Cleopatra: "The tears live in an onion, that should water this sorrow.'
The purport of the remainder of this speech, is to show the advantage of having a handsome person to cover a virtuous mind. It is evident therefore, that instead of "the fish lives in the sea,” we should read-" the fish lives in the shell." For the sea cannot be said to be a beautiful cover to a fish, though a shell may. -I believe, that by the golden story, is meant no particular legend, but any valuable writing. M. MASON.
8 That in gold clasps locks in the GOLDEN STORY ;] The golden story is perhaps the golden legend, a book in the dark ages popery much read, and doubtless often exquisitely embellished, but of which Canus, one of the popish doctors, proclaims the author to have been homo ferrei oris, plumbei cordis. JOHNSON. The poet may mean nothing more than to say, that those books are most esteemed by the world, where valuable contents are embellished by as valuable binding. STEEVENS.
JUL. I'll look to like, if looking liking move': But no more deep will I endart mine eye1, Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.
Enter a Servant.
SERV. Madam 2, the guests are come, supper served up, you called, my young lady asked for, the nurse cursed in the pantry, and every thing in extremity. I must hence to wait; I beseech you, follow straight.
(LA. CAP. We follow thee.-Juliet, the county
NURSE. Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.() [Exeunt.
Enter ROMEO, MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO, with five or six Maskers, Torch-Bearers, and Others.
ROM. What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse ?
9 I'll look to like, if looking liking move :] Such another jingle of words occurs in the second book of Sidney's Arcadia: and seeing to like, and liking to love, and loving straight" &c.
·ENDART mine eye,] The quarto 1597 reads—“ engage mine eye." STEEVENS.
2 Madam, &c.] Thus in the quarto 1597. "Madam, you are called for; supper is ready; the nurse cursed in the pantry; all things in extremity; make haste, for I must be gone to wait.'"
3 Mercutio,] Shakspeare appears to have formed this character on the following slight hint in the original story: -another gentleman called Mercutio, which was a courtlike gentleman, very wel beloved of all men, and by reason of his pleasant and courteous behaviour was in al companies wel intertained." Painter's Palace of Pleasure, tom. ii. p. 221. STEEVENS.
Mercutio is thus described in the poem which Shakspeare followed:
Or shall we on without apology?
BEN. The date is out of such prolixity*:
At thone side of her chair her lover Romeo, "And on the other side there sat one call'd Mercutio; "A courtier that each where was highly had in price, "For he was courteous of his speech, and pleasant of device. "Even as a lion would among the lambs be bold, "Such was among the bashful maids Mercutio to behold. "With friendly gripe he seiz'd fair Juliet's snowish hand; "A gift he had, that nature gave him in his swathing band "That frozen mountain ice was never half so cold,
"As were his hands, though ne'er so near the fire he did
Perhaps it was this last circumstance which induced our poet to represent Mercutio as little sensible to the passion of love, and a jester at wounds which he never felt." See Othello, Act III. Sc. IV.:
This hand is moist, my lady;·
"This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart;
Hot, hot, and moist." MALONE.
4 The date is out of such prolixity:] i. e. Masks are now out of fashion. That Shakspeare was an enemy to these fooleries, appears from his writing none; and that his plays discredited such entertainments, is more than probable. WARBUrton,
The diversion going forward at present is not a masque, but a masquerade. In Henry VIII. where the king introduces himself to the entertainment given by Wolsey, he appears, like Romeo and his companions, in a mask, and sends a messenger before, to make an apology for his intrusion. This was a custom observed by those who came uninvited, with a desire to conceal themselves for the sake of intrigue, or to enjoy the greater freedom of conversation. Their entry on these occasions was always prefaced by some speech in praise of the beauty of the ladies, or the generosity of the entertainer; and to the prolixity of such introductions, I believe Romeo is made to allude.
So, in Histriomastix, 1610, a man expresses his wonder that the maskers enter without any compliment:
"What come they in so blunt, without device?'
In the accounts of many entertainments given in reigns antecedent to that of Elizabeth, I find this custom preserved. Of the same kind of masquerading, see a specimen in Timon, where Cupid precedes a troop of ladies with a speech. STEEVENS.
Shakspeare has written a masque which the reader will find introduced in the 4th Act of The Tempest. It would have been difficult for the reverend annotator to have proved they were discontinued during any period of Shakspeare's life. PERCY.
We'll have no Cupid hood-wink'd with a scarf,
5 Bearing a TARTAR's painted bow of lath,] The Tartarian bows, as well as most of those used by the Asiatick nations, resemble in their form the old Roman or Cupid's bow, such as we see on medals and bas reliefs. Shakspeare used the epithet to distinguish it from the English bow, whose shape is the segment of a circle. DOUCE.
like a CROW-KEEPER ;] The word crow-keeper is explained in King Lear, Act IV. Sc. VI. JOHNSON.
7 Nor no without-book prologue, &c.] The two following lines are inserted from the first edition. POPE.
for our ENTRANCE:] Entrance is here used as trisyllable ; enterance. MALONE.
9 We'll measure them a MEASURE,] i. e. a dance. MALONE. 1 Give me a torch,] The character which Romeo declares his resolution to assume, will be best explained by a passage in Westward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607: "He is just like a torch-bearer to maskers; he wears good cloaths, and is ranked in good company, but he doth nothing." A torch-bearer seems to have been a constant appendage on every troop of masks. So, in the second part of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601: ·As on a masque; but for our torch-bearers, "Hell cannot rake so mad a crew as I."
Again, in the same play :
a gallant crew,
"Of courtly maskers landed at the stairs;
"And here prevented, I believe their page,
Who, with his torch is enter'd."
Before the invention of chandeliers, all rooms of state were illuminated by flambeaux which attendants held upright in their hands. This custom is mentioned by Froissart, and other writers who had the merit of describing every thing they saw. See a wooden cut introduced in the notes to the Winter's Tale, Act IV. Sc. III.
To hold a torch, however, was anciently no degrading office. Queen Elizabeth's Gentlemen-Pensioners attended her to Cam
Being but heavy, I will bear the light.
MER. Nay, gentle Romeo, we* must have you dance.
ROM. Not I, believe me you have dancing shoes, With nimble soles: I have a soul of lead, So stakes me to the ground, I cannot move.
(MER. You are a lover2; borrow Cupid's wings, And soar with them above a common bound.
ROM. I am too sore enpierced with his shaft,
MER. And, to sink in it, should you burden love*;
Too great oppression for a tender thing.
ROM. Is love a tender thing? it is too rough, Too rude, too boist'rous; and it pricks like thorn. MER. If love be rough with you, be rough with love;
* Quarto A, Believe me, Romeo, I.
bridge, and held torches while a play was acted before her in the Chapel of King's College, on a Sunday evening.
At an entertainment also, given by Louis XIV. in 1664, no less than 200 valets-de-pied were thus employed. STEEVENS.
King Henry VIII. when he went masked to Wolsey's palace, (now Whitehall,) had sixteen torch-bearers. See Henry III. Act I. Sc. IV.: MALOne.
2 Mer. You are a lover; &c.] The twelve following lines are not to be found in the first edition. PoPe.
I cannot bound, &c.] Let Milton's example, on this occasion, keep Shakspeare in countenance:
- in contempt
"At one slight bound high over-leap'd all bound
Of hill," &c. Paradise Lost, book iv. 1. 180. STEEVENS. SHOULD YOU burden love;] i. e. by sinking in it, you should, or would, burden love. Mr. Heath, on whose suggestion a note of interrogation has been placed at the end of this line in the late edition, entirely misunderstood the passage. Had he attended to the first two lines of Mercutio's next speech, he would have seen what kind of burdens he was thinking of. See also the concluding lines of Mercutio's long speech in p. 56. MALONE.